What is “real” science?

Have you ever read a blog article about a fool-proof diet or miracle cure “recommended by scientists” and wondered if it were true? Have you ever been told by a “science expert” about an amazing product that will make you look 20 years younger? Have you ever purchased a product or followed a friend’s advice because you were “sold” on the science only to find out later they were wrong and you were fooled?

Richard Feynman, a famous physicist, said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” Today it can be harder than ever not to be fooled by alternative facts, pseudoscience, and misinformed friends or experts. How can you tell real science from falsehoods pretending to be science, and how can you teach your kids the difference?

Fortunately, the answer is simple, but applying it can be difficult. In a nutshell, telling the difference between real science and falsehoods is about being intellectually honest about data, facts, sources, and the conclusions we draw from them. Real science is the collection of information that most closely reflects how the world really works. But because science is a human endeavor, the information we gather can be flawed, wrong, and incomplete, and the conclusions we draw from that information can be biased and misleading.

Today, it’s more important than ever to know the difference between real science and falsehoods. In our modern world science gives us new medical treatments, new ways to provide energy for our homes, and new ways to provide food, clothing, and shelter to millions of people. Modern science has also produced a variety of unintended consequences for people and the planet we live on. Industrial waste pollutes our rivers and oceans, plastics dominate our landfills, and antibiotic resistance threatens the lives of millions. As a result, there is a growing separation among people who trust modern science and those who don’t. Divisions separate those who trust in vaccines and those who don’t, those who believe in climate change and those who don’t, and those who seek alternative medicines and those who don’t, and the list goes on.

So what can we do to bridge this gap, taking the best of modern science, limiting the worst, and handing all that we know to the next generation? At Real Science-4-Kids, we believe offering kids the most up-to-date scientific information written for their age and reading level is the first step towards helping the next generation learn science in a reasoned, balanced, careful, ethical, compassionate, and factual manner. We also believe that helping kids understand the connections between science and other disciplines like the arts, technology, philosophy, history, and language deepens their understanding of real science and furthers their understanding of how the world works.